The Listening Cave
That evening, BabyJane and I were at John and Mary's house, and greeted Fred. Fred greeted us with the Casleun whistle language. John was excited that Fred was a quick learner, and told me that Fred had an expert musical ear, and a glue-like memory.
"Everything that Fred hears", John said, "He remembers. He perfectly imitates everything I say.
"I am puzzled," Fred said, "that humans are surprised at something which is completely natural. How would it be possible for me to forget something that I heard? The electrical activity system is affected by everything that happens, and the effect is permanent. Doesn't the human brain do that?
"In principle, that's true" I said, "but we don't understand the human brain perfectly."
"Interesting" said Fred, "and strange. Perhaps the emotions confuse remembering"
The next day, John drove me to the hospital. My ankle was X-rayed, and I was told that a small bone was cracked.
"It's not serious", said the doctor, "You'll get over it quickly, if you don't walk"
He bandaged the foot, and gave me something to reduce the swelling, and an analgesic.
"Enjoy your stay", he said.
For a week, I stayed at John's house, and kept busy studying Loglan, and investigating how the here Fred communicates with the laboratory Freds, and made paper aeroplanes for Paul and Peter. Paul and Peter are the sons of John and Mary. I also watched television. John likes Benny Hill, who is popular with Loglanders. Benny is an English comedian, and rather vulgar. To hear him talking Loglan was strange. I had seen him on French television (he is popular with the French as well, and speaks French expertly). However in Loglandia, his speech is dubbed.
Fred already speaks Casleun quite fluently, and enjoys learning it. Nevertheless, he still does not understand emotions. He understands the words that represent emotions. For example, he knows that jealosy, anger, and hate are not admirable, but he does not know the reason for that.
John believes that Fred now knows enough of the melodies of Casleun, and we would probably benefit him by a visit to the Listening cave.
"Whistle Mountain", John said, "will explain many things to Fred in its precise speech. I will be able to accompany you and explain everything that he does not understand. I anticipate that it will be interested to meet a fungus that speaks Casleun".
We will have to bring many things to to the Listening Cave. For example, we will need to bring Fred and his incubator, a notebook computer, his speech synthesis apparatus, his speech recognition apparatus, and a large battery to run all of these. John persuaded several of his young, strong male friends to help us carry everything. One climbs to the Listening Cave from the valley by a steep staircase carved in the vertical rock face.
When all was ready, my ankle was completely healed as well. All of us left John's house in the minibus for the Listening Cave, which is located on the other side of Whistle Mountain,
The staircase was very steep and long, and we were all out of breath from the climb. We set the equipment on the rock, and sat down for a few minutes, and then entered the cave.
The Listening Cave is very large, and in the form of a funnel. The outer part of the funnel is cone-shaped, and at the point of the cone is a quite narrow corridor, which goes into the mountain roughly horizontally. Anyone wishing to listen to the mountain goes to the end of the corridor, so John and I carried Fred there.
In fact, I heard something like a low continuous low-frequency moan.
"Do you hear" John whispered, "Whistle Mountain is talking to us".
John quietly whistled something, and listened again. Fred also was silent, and listened. We stood there, completely silent. After a few minutes, Fred suddenly whistled something, and John replied, and seemed very excited. And both discussed something in Casleun.
"What's happening?" I asked John.
"The Mountain told Fred something that interested him very much. Apparently there is an intelligent fungus here, like Fred. And it is letting Fred talk to it.
Fred started with some quick whistling, and John listened and smiled. John also occasionally gave short whistles. Fred and John continued this conversation for a long time. Of course, I understood nothing and was very curious to know about the other intelligent fungus. Is it the same sort as Fred? Where is it? I looked around, however the cave was dark, and the rocks full of cracks, so the fungus could probably not be seen.
I was tired from all this standing still, and wandered around the corridor, and sat on the rock at its mouth. BabyJane and John's friends were sitting there chatting.
I suddlely heard John calling to me.
"Alex" , he said, "Fred wants to tell you something important"
I went to John and Fred, who were at the end of the corridor.
"Thank you, Thank you, Alex", said Fred, "I am very, very happy. Whistle Mountain has explained emotions to me, and now I understand them. Most important of all, I have fallen in love!"